Why The World Needs More People With ASD

Alex Perdue

Alex is a 19 year old Political Science and History double major attending the University of South Carolina. He is interested in music, US and UK politics, European history generally, and the enduring relevance of liberalism to American politics.

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7 Responses

  1. North says:

    Great post Alex!Report

  2. Maribou says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. And I don’t think I mentioned it properly before, but great to have you writing for us! Exactly the kind of thoughtful, perceptive writing we appreciate around here.Report

  3. DavidTC says:

    Oh, don’t get me started on Sheldon Cooper. That character is not even a slightly correct depiction of autism. He’s a combination of OCD and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as far as I can tell. He might _also_ be slightly autistic, but it’s drowned out by everything else.

    I don’t have ASD(1), but I do have ADHD, and the media there is just as wrong.

    Like, show me an adult character with ADHD, and they’ll be probably be hyper. Which most adults with ADHD are not. I wasn’t even as a kid. And they’ll be as distractable as a butterfly. Like…no. That’s wrong

    They want to accurately depict a character with ADHD, they should show someone who…is bad at staying on task. Not the absurd ‘Oh, shiny!’ level, but someone will come up to talk to them and, when that person leaves, they won’t resume what they were doing, despite that being important. Or show someone with executive dysfunction (Which I don’t have much of, but a lot of adult ADHD people have.), who knows they have to do something, but just…can’t actually start. Or show someone who accidentally hyperfocused when they were trying to multitask and ignored the kitchen timer when reading something, so burned their foods. Or show someone drinks massive amounts of caffeine as a form of self-medication, or takes a medication that is supposed to make them sleepy which results in them being unable to sleep. Or used both parenthesis and footnotes in a post on the internet. (Ooo…self burn.)

    That’s realistic adult ADHD. Like, the actual experiences of people with ADHD. As opposed to TV, where we’re probably Cloudcuckoolanders.

    I just don’t understand why fiction can’t do it vaguely correct. Just…like, it’s easy to argue ‘If you are going to depict someone with disorder of some sort, find someone with that disorder and run the scripts past them’, but…they’re basically failing to even look up the symptoms of the disorders on Wikipedia.

    1. It was once suggested I might, though, and I was tested. But I’m just a socially awkward nerd with ADHD.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

      Oh, and because I have ADHD, I forgot to put my point. People need actual depictions of themselves in fiction. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a single character I can look at and see them deal with the same sort of problems I’ve had to. In fact, not only is the depiction absurd, but…it’s not treated as something that can be dealt with at all.

      ‘Oh, that character has ADHD, they’re just going to run around in the background doing random things. They’ll never actually be helpful.’
      ‘I have ADHD, so I write down everything I’m supposed to be doing. Yes, even stupidly obvious things that I clearly should be able to remember. Don’t assume I hear you call my name if I didn’t acknowledge you. Etc, etc.’.

      As as kid with ADHD, it was the first I saw.

      And the same with ASD, and other sorts of disorders. And…look, ideally writers would have someone with that disorder to run stuff past, and they certainly need to do that if they’re writing the story of ‘What it’s like for a person on the autistic spectrum’. I get it.

      But…not everything needs to be that. Sometimes you just want ‘normal guy with autism’ on the screen as a random reoccurring character, so kids can go ‘Hey, someone like me with a normal life’. And just…writers? Read the internet. There are diagnostic criteria. Just…give someone those. Duh.

      But instead writers just invent nonsense. Over and over again.Report

      • George Turner in reply to DavidTC says:

        Great post!

        I think most physicists and engineers mock Big Bang Theory because physicists and engineers are about the least likely people on the planet to go to a comic book store. They’re not known for a fascination with people, magic, and whatnot. They might find the equipment that prints and boxes the comic books interesting, though. They more likely watch Mythbusters or maybe PBS NOVA.

        As an aside, my concern about history as a major is that although the way the field should be practiced is probably ideal for someone who can focus on arcane details to dig out the truth, many of universities are struggling to retain history majors because in the last few decades it morphed into “weaving stories to advance a cause.”

        That got discussed by the late Keith Windshuttle in his book Killing History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past

        It turns out that the set of people who are really fascinated with history and who will dig through old city records for months to uncover some obscure patterns aren’t interested in weaving fact-free narratives, and the people who want to expound such narratives don’t like sitting through boring lectures on Reconstruction. So student retention in history programs has become a problem at many universities that abandoned the traditional focus for social fads. But there’s plenty of history geeks that majored in something else but devote enormous time an energy to studying and doing history.Report